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Will Obama’s stand on gay marriage hurt him this fall?

Please note that I include this post in random thoughts because I am not entirely sure how answer to the question I pose in the title.  Until last night, I thought that Obama’s recent shift on gay marriage wouldn’t make any difference in the fall, save to increase his fundraising. Then, I got a link to this video last night in my e-mail, watched it and wondered:

Victor Davis Hanson’s read on the president’s supposed shift also caused me to question my initial interpretation:

The flip-flop on gay marriage, of course, did not win Obama a single vote, just plenty of one-percenters’ money. More injurious to his cause was his idiotic refrain about his “evolving” views. No one believed that yarn: fifteen years ago he was for gay marriage when it was smart politically for him to be so, and then he revolved to “no” when it was not. All that happened this week was that clueless Joe Biden jumped the gun. Obama with a wink and nod had privately assured rich gays, as he had Putin, that after his reelection he would give them what was wanted, but could not quite yet, given his need to hoodwink the clingers to get reelected. I think most voters understood that con as emblematic of this presidency.

Via Instapundit.  Where it hurts the most is not the merits of the issue, but that people will see the re-positioning as patently political.  Not just that, he looks out of touch, having announced his shift the day after North Carolina voters overwhelmingly rejected state recognition of same-sex marriage.  It’s almost as if he were thumbing his nose at the citizens in a state that he won in 2008–and is trying to hold again this year.

Now, I wish that gay marriage were not, to borrow Mitt Romney’s expression, “a hot political issue dividing our nation.”  And wish support of state recognition of same-sex unions would not hurt a candidate at the polls.  And maybe, under normal circumstances, it wouldn’t.

In the current context, however, it does seem to have the capacity to hurt the incumbent, more for the way he played the issue than for the issue itself.  And that is truly unfortunate.  Another reason perhaps why gay people should reconsider the merits of the president’s recent statement.

ADDENDUM:  Although Gallup found that a “majority of Americans, 60%, say President Barack Obama’s newly announced support for same-sex marriage will make no difference to their vote“, twice as man said, “it will make them less likely to vote for Obama as say more likely, though roughly half of the ‘less likely’ group are Republicans who probably would not support Obama anyway.”

Among independents, 11% were more likely to vote for him and 23% more likely to vote against him because of his new-found support for same-sex marriage, a difference of twelve percent.  Via Allahpundit who attempts to offer an explanation for the discrepancy, with the poll finding a majority (51%) of Americans agreeing with him on gay marriage:

How can he have lost a net 13 points overall and a net 12 among indies in this metric when a majority say they support his position? Simple: There’s an enthusiasm disparity between the two sides. The side that supports gay marriage is, I think, a coalition of two groups — the passionate gay-rights supporters who see it as an issue of equality and civil rights and then a whole swath of people who take a MYOB “I don’t care what gays do” approach to the matter. The latter group may prefer O’s new stance but they’re not animated by this subject; they view SSM the way they do because of a basic libertarian live-and-let-live impulse, not some feeling that it’s a grand cause. Opponents of gay marriage are more focused, I suspect: Whether religious or not, they think this is uncharted territory for society and worry about unintended consequences from mainstreaming “alternative lifestyles.” If you believe that it could have significant consequences for the culture, then it stands to reason that your interest in this subject will be more than casual. So when O comes out in favor of SSM, three things happen: The ardent gay-rights supporters cheer and find themselves more likely to vote for him, the gay-marriage supporters boo and find themselves less likely, and the libertarian supporters shrug and say it makes no difference. That’s how you get those imbalanced numbers.

Notions not necessarily accurate, but worth considering. . .

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8 Comments

  1. the gay-marriage supporters boo and find themselves less likely,

    This has to be an error on the part of Allahpundit. Surely he meant to say: “the anti-gay marriage people.”

    That said, this whole “analysis” is pure bunk. The “average” voter is going to the polls to voter on the the economic and statist direction in which the country is headed, not something so parochial as gay marriage.

    The “average” voter is going to look at Obama in terms of whether the country is on the correct course or whether it needs more of Obama or less of Obama. While gay marriage might be a factor, it hardly eclipses the job market or increased welfare and wealth redistribution.

    People vote their circumstances, not their ideals, when times are rocky or tough.

    Comment by heliotrope — May 13, 2012 @ 8:59 pm - May 13, 2012

  2. I can’t see how this will change Obama’s votes one way or the other.

    Obama’s base will remain loyal no matter what (can anyone imagine a wholesale shift of the black vote to Romney?).

    Ditto for conservatives who are very unlikely to vote for Obama regardless of his latest evolution on the issue.

    Gay marriage remains way down on the list of things voters tell pollsters they’re concerned about.

    Myself, I find it a scandal that it’s getting so much airtime with the economy so fragile and with soldiers still being served up as cannon fodder in A-stan (see story in Saturday’s WSJ).

    http://goo.gl/D3CFa (links to WSJ)

    Comment by SoCalRobert — May 13, 2012 @ 9:30 pm - May 13, 2012

  3. Even here in Stalinist NYC it’s the economy over social issues for the presidential election. It’s getting slow here for renting $60,000.00 a month places to live. Enough upper west siders are disenchanted with Obama for not getting more progressive projects accomplished that unless the economy improves greatly and quickly he’s a one termer.

    Comment by Richard Bell — May 13, 2012 @ 9:58 pm - May 13, 2012

  4. Nate Silver at the NYT has a good analysis. He doesn’t believe it will matter much. Basically what it does is what he needs to be doing at this point, rallying the base back to his side before he ramps it all up for the general. It’s pretty calculated in terms of getting fundraising going. I read somewhere that 1 in 6 of his large bundlers were identified as openly gay, so I’m sure he needed to throw some red meat their way. I’m in agreement with the other commenters, Bush has the luxury of a good economy in ’04 to make an issue of this, Obama probably won’t be losing many independents on the issue, only gaining. His only chance is rallying enough of his base and finding enough niche issues like “women’s rights” and “gay rights” to sway enough independents back into the fold.

    Comment by Tim in MT — May 13, 2012 @ 11:53 pm - May 13, 2012

  5. [...] blatant use of gay marriage as a political football, from B. Daniel Blatt at Gay Patriot, Will Obama’s stand on gay marriage hurt him this fall?: Victor Davis Hanson’s read on the president’s supposed shift also caused me to question my [...]

    Pingback by “The First Gay President” — Newsweek Hails Haloed Obama « Frugal Café Blog Zone — May 14, 2012 @ 9:29 am - May 14, 2012

  6. I firmly believe this will help Romney more than hurt Obama, yet Obama will be the one losing support nonetheless.

    This is a gift to Romney. Those Christians who are on the fence will now take a closer look at Romney.

    The thing is those that are supporting gay marriage according to the polls isn’t voting sufficiently against the anti-gay marriage laws. As a result, we can be sure that the voters will show up to vote Romney into office.

    Comment by anon23532 — May 14, 2012 @ 11:05 am - May 14, 2012

  7. It’s not Obama’s position on relationships between two individuals of the same gender that will cost him the election; it’s his position on the relationship between individuals and government that will cost him the election.

    Comment by Chad — May 14, 2012 @ 1:52 pm - May 14, 2012

  8. Chad -> Excellent point

    Comment by Geena — May 14, 2012 @ 2:17 pm - May 14, 2012

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